The New York Times Travel Show experience

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New York Times Travel Show

Photo: Cynthia Elyce Rubin
A Selection of unusual souvenirs might just follow you home from the travel show.

Cynthia Elyce Rubin
Travel Editor

Recently, as travel editor of The Norwegian American, I attended The New York Times Travel Show, the largest consumer travel trade show in the U.S. This year the show celebrated its 15th anniversary in grand style, with 2018 numbers surpassing those of 2017. The New York Times announced a new record of 32,398 participants, including 10,628 travel agent and media attendees, and 22,130 consumers during the three-day event that took place from Jan. 26 to 28 at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center.

The show is known for celebrity presenters, and this year did not disappoint. Well-known fashion designer Zac Posen, on a culinary journey with his new cookbook Cooking With Zac: Recipes From Rustic to Refined, appeared in conversation with New York Times Food Editor Sam Sifton. Award-winning TV star Andrew Zimmern, one of the most versatile personalities in the food world and host of Bizarre Foods and Delicious Destinations, gave a talk. He has explored foodways in more than 170 countries.

New York Times Travel Show

Photo: Cynthia Elyce Rubin
Above: Zak Fouad of Travel Point of America

Viewing Mexico City and Barcelona through their burgeoning art scenes was collector Maria Brito, who has built art collections and designed the homes of such celebrities as Sean “Diddy” Combs and Gwyneth Paltrow. Travel Channel program host Samantha Brown and Pauline Frommer, editorial director of the Frommer’s series of guidebooks, were there offering tips about the people who are changing and challenging destinations around the globe. Emmy-Award-winning travel journalist Joseph Rosendo, host of the PBS show Joseph Rosendo’s Travelscope, shared his five decades of travel experiences. And there were many more, including talks about the best travel gadgets, the best travel books, and food and coffee culture in the land down under with Aussie-born tastemakers Nicholas Stone and Eddy Buckingham.

There were book signings and food tastes galore. As for culinary tidbits, the Turkish booth gave out piles of sesame-crusted simit and sweet baklava. In an Indian booth, a man prepared samosas, and Adriatik Tours, specialist in tours to Albania, distributed kosavare cakes “Baked with Love,” or so the wrapper read.

A pavilion was devoted to family travel, and for the first time there was an L.G.B.T.Q. pavilion, organized by editor-in-chief of gay travel magazine ManAboutWorld Ed Salvato, where you could learn about destinations and events as well as tours, cruises, and experiences the world over. The family pavilion showcased lodges, destinations, and cruise lines, along with new activities of arts and crafts and social media engagement opportunities for attendees of all ages.

New York Times Travel Show

Photo: Cynthia Elyce Rubin
An Indonesian couple in full traditional costume.

On Saturday and Sunday, pavilion stages held events and demonstrations grouped to focus on the Caribbean and Latin American countries, European countries, and Asian countries, with the global stage presenting miscellaneous performances, such as the Scottish Highland dancers and bagpiper, tips for things like scoring free upgrades and handling delays, and a celebration of the diverse African cultures, courtesy of the Africa Travel Association. In addition, people in native costumes walked around the event drawing everyone’s attention and joining in many a selfie.

If you stopped by the Meet the Experts booth, you could gain insight and tips into credit-card miles, points and rewards, women’s solitary travel, travel writing and photography, tracing family roots through travel, and everything you need to know about RVs. Patricia Schultz, author of 1,000 Places to See Before You Die, was on hand, as well as Alisa Clickenger, founder of Women’s Motorcycle Tours, just in case you want to view the world from a two-wheeled perspective. The romantic getaway, advice for travelers with special needs, volunteer travel—no trend or practice seemed to be missing. There was something for everyone.

And then there were on-site deals and offers that certainly grabbed the imagination. Win a free trip, get 15 percent discount, spend more and save more.

There were discounts for travel agents and for consumers. Who could pass up the bargains?

Giveaways and souvenirs? Many booths distributed the mundane pens, notepads, and tote bags. But there were some that certainly seemed special.

And when you’ve had enough?

There’s no place like New York City, a bustling and dynamic place where people continue to build new lives on old dreams and where just about every nationality and every language is heard.

Walk across the street to the High Line. This once abandoned former New York Central Railway spur is now an elevated park and trail complemented by foliage and plantings, although winter does not show it at its best. It’s an aerial greenway redesigned as a “living system” that draws from landscape architecture, urban design, and ecology to form a unique public space. With a view of the Hudson River, it is a popular destination for New Yorkers and tourists alike.

Then head for lunch. Ethnic restaurants abound in Manhattan and nearby boroughs. Queens and Brooklyn come to mind. Join intrepid New Yorkers who walk a lot. And where else can you find the 24-hour coffee shop that serves not only good coffee but also the best-value dinner in town? I’m with Frank Sinatra who crooned, “New York, New York. Start spreading the news….”

Cynthia Elyce Rubin, Ph.D., is a visual culture specialist, travel writer, and author of articles and books on decorative arts, folk art, and postcard history, who collects postcards, ephemera, and early photography. See for more.

This article originally appeared in the April 6, 2018, issue of The Norwegian American. To subscribe, visit SUBSCRIBE or call us at (206) 784-4617.

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The Norwegian American is North America's oldest and only Norwegian newspaper, published since May 17, 1889.